Answering Our Call to Nibi Webinar 2020

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As we corner our conversation on women, we understand that women have an intimate relationship with water. As such, women carry particular teachings and ceremonies that reflect this intimacy. Join us as we share our knowledge and understanding of water from our different perspectives. We will create a virtual space through our discussion to explore our collective in the role in water protection.

"Our people understand that the earth is a woman – Mother Earth – because from her comes all living things. Water is her lifeblood. It flows through her, nourishes her, and purifies her. Indigenous women have the innate responsibility as water keepers. Women carry new life in water and it is the breaking of that water vessel that brings new life into this world. As such, they hold the teachings and water ceremonies.

Our people have a spiritual and direct relationship with all waters. Our traditional territories include all forms of water such as rain waters, rivers, streams, creeks, springs, bedrock veins, marshes and snow." - LWIC Accord


Lee Mae Spence is a Muskego Ininiw Iskwew (Swampy Cree woman) and Métis originally from Treaty No. 5 Territory in Churchill, Manitoba, where she was born and raised until furthering her education on Treaty No. 1 Territory, in Winnipeg, Manitoba. She walks alongside others from a strength based, trauma informed and wholistic approach, and is passionate in reclaiming Indigenous ways of knowing, being and seeing and creating space for Indigenous youth to speak their truth and create powerful impact for future generations.

She received a Bachelor of Recreation Management and Community Development from the University of Manitoba in 2013. She stands in many roles such as facilitator, instructor, project manager, writer, and consultant.

When she is not creating awareness of the power of Indigenous ways or dreaming up new programming ideas with others, she can be found cooking, walking on the Land, picking medicines, or spending time with her partner + puppy, family, and friends.

Grandmother Sherry Copenace - Niizhoosake, Saagimaakwe, Atik n’dodem (Elk Clan), Midewewin. Born and raised on the community of Ojibways of Onigaming, which is located in Northwestern Ontario and on the east side of Lake of the Woods. Sherry is firm in her ways of knowing and being Anishinaabe. Sherry speaks her original Language-Ojibway and has a great love for the Land and Waters. Since 2011, Sherry has led a renewal of Makoosekawin- Anishinaabe young women coming of age teachings and ceremonies. Sherry helps at Anishinaabe Teaching and Sacred Lodges. Sherry has her MSW degree and is associated with several institutions and organizations who continually engage her for her knowledge and lived experience.

Dr. Kelsey Leonard is an Assistant Professor in the Faculty of Environment at the University of Waterloo. She represents the Shinnecock Indian Nation on the Mid-Atlantic Committee on the Ocean, which is charged with protecting America's ocean ecosystems and coastlines. She also serves as a member of the Great Lakes Water Quality Board of the International Joint Commission. Dr. Leonard has been instrumental in safeguarding the interests of Indigenous Nations for environmental planning, and builds Indigenous science and knowledge into new solutions for water governance and sustainable oceans.

Rosalie Labillois is an Emerging Leader as the Co-Chair of the National Youth Council at the Assembly of First Nations who is working to amplify Indigenous youth perspective and voice at the national level. She has been committed to advancing the work of climate action, prioritizing mental wellness, culture and language promotion.

Rosalie has interned at Waikato-Tainui in New Zealand and worked alongside well respected Elders at the Turtle Lodge in Manitoba. Driven by traditional teachings, she takes honour in sharing the knowledge that has been passed down to her.

Rosalie is currently attending Trent University and her goals include continuing to advocate for the recognition of Indigenous Traditional Knowledge and the empowerment of Indigenous youth to take pride in their Nation’s language and ceremonies

Waasekom Niin (Edward George) is of the Turtle Clan from Saugeen First Nation and Kettle and Stoney Point First Nations along the eastern shores of Lake Huron. He is a ceremonial helper and an avid volunteer, advocate and action-ist for First Nations led initiatives.

In 2017 Waasekom paddled the Great Lakes alongside For Earth and Water Walk to raise awareness about the state of the Great Lakes, and to petition for Great Lakes Personhood. He is presently the lead animator for Niwiijiiwok Doodemag, a grassroots initiative that is focussed on the reemergence of traditional indigenous governance.

Waasekom is also the Ontario Region fellow for the inaugural NDN Collective Changemaker Fellowship to build indigenous power and resilience.

Rebecca Sinclair is Masters of Ceremonies for this event.


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